Chameleon robot South Korea: Researchers from South Korea claimed to have developed an artificial skin-like material, which can easily adjust its color just like a chameleon according to its surroundings. The next-generation artificial camouflage is created with a special ink that changes color depending on temperature and can be controlled by tiny, flexible heaters.
The researcher said, “Combined with the active control system and sensing units, the complete device chameleon model successfully retrieves the local background color and matches its surface color instantaneously with natural transition characteristics to be a competent option for a next-generation artificial camouflage.”
Ko Seung-hwan, a mechanical engineering professor at Seoul National University who led the team said, “If you wear woodland camouflage uniforms in the desert, you can be easily exposed. Changing colors and patterns actively in accordance with surroundings is key to the camouflage technology that we created.”
The demonstration of the technology, thermochromic liquid crystal (TLC) ink, and vertically stacked multilayer silver nanowire heaters, has been done by Ko and the team. They used a chameleon robot with color-detecting sensors. The skin managed to mimic whatever colors the sensors could see in its surrounding. The chameleon robot passed over red, blue, and green floors, and instantly changed its color to match the background. Ko said, “The color information detected by sensors is transferred to a microprocessor and then to silver nanowire heaters. Once the heaters reach a certain temperature, the thermochromic liquid crystal layer changes its color.”
As per their research, the thickness of the flexible, multi-layered artificial skin as a whole is less than a hundred micrometers, which is thinner than human hair. Also, the skin can form complex patterns by adding additional silver nanowire layers in simple shapes like, dots, lines, or squares.
Ko added, “The flexible skin can be developed as a wearable device and used for fashion, military camouflage uniforms, the exterior of cars and buildings for aesthetic purposes, and for future display technology.”
The research of the flexible, multi-layered artificial skin was published in Nature Communications in August.